The Salt Lake Community College volleyball team continued to play well through the first two sets of their game against Hillsborough Community College (HCC). However, after going up two sets to none, the Bruins watched the Hawks grab control of the game. The Hawks win three sets to two (25 – 17, 25 – 23, 21 – 25, 19 – 25, 3 – 15).
With each passing point, the Hawks got stronger, and there was nothing the Bruins could do to wrestle away the momentum or just one more set. HCC’s Conference Player of the Year Andrea Tauai was a sufficient answer to SLCC’s own Carol Grasso, the Hawk defense found itself against the Bruins frontline.
Bailee Kendall did not play in the game, and Mariana Pilon was asked to fill the position for most of the evening.
The Bruins jumped out to a huge lead and doubled up Hillsborough Community College at 20 to 10. The Hawks were able to close within 7 at 23 to 16 but exchanged errors with SLCC and then had a mishit on a Hannah Wade hit over the net. Bruins take the set 25 to 17, and SLCC looked like it was rolling.
The teams kept the game close throughout with the advantage early to SLCC. A hit into the net by the Hawks tied the game at 20. On the next point Hillsborough had a kill that Pilon answered with a kill of her own. The score was again tied at 21.
Wade hot a ball long, but Sequoia Lofton hit a kill shot to tie the game at 22. A Lofton ace that just kissed the net and crawled over gave the Bruins the lead at 23 to 22, but the Hawks answered with a dink that floated down for the kill.
A Pilon kill and a point that was made after a beautiful Grasso save gave the Bruins the set at 25 to 23.
The Bruins jumped out to a very early lead at 4 to 1 but could not hold back the Hawks, who ran off four straight points to make the score 5 to 8.
With the score 12 to 19, the Bruins made a run that included a Grasso kill, a Jillian Campbell block, good defensive play that led to a long hit by HCC, a Grasso ace, and a kill by Pilon. If you aren’t keeping track, the score was 17 to 19.
That is when Tauai took over for the Hawks. She had a dink for a point, Campbell got stuffed at the net, and Tauai had a kill that Baylie Henrie couldn’t get to. Ater a long rally in which Grasso had two sweet digs, HCC hit the ball long.
With the score 18 to 23, Campbell painted a kill into the back corner. Janessa Koelliker got in on the action with a kill of her own, but Tauai answered to make the score 20 to 24. Wade kept the Bruins alive with a kill, but Tauai finished the game with the last point (21 – 25).
One highlight for the game was the three blocks that Koelliker and Pilon had that allowed Pilon to paint the corner with a kill and tie the set at 6. The set was tied again at 11 on a block by Campbell and Pilon, and that was when it started to go bad for the Bruins.
The Hawks ran out to a 13 to 19 lead when the Bruins ran off 3 points, two of which came on Koelliker kills. Tauai stopped the bleeding for the hawks with a kill of her own, and Grasso answered to make the score 17 to 20.
The Bruins did their best to stay in the game, but Tauai ended it with a kill shot at 19 to 25.
The Bruins just fell apart, or the Hawks just came together, or it was a combination of the two. At any rate, in a set that goes to 15, the Bruins only had 3 points (a Wade kill, a Pilon kill, and a Koelliker kill). It was a sad ending to a season that saw the Bruins undefeated in conference play and also saw them overachieve at nationals by defeating the 3-seed in their second game.
Fortunately, Bruin fans can look forward to another season, in which the Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year Grasso should be returning with more experience, and the Bruins will get Ailin Donati back from injury.